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Frederick Douglass Celebrates His Return to America a Free Man, and Reunion with His Family, While Telling of His Treatment During the Voyage

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Autograph Letter Signed to Sarah Hilditch of Wales, April 29, 1847, Lynn, Massachusetts. 4 pp., 5 x 7¾ in.

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I caught Frederick [Jr.]in my arms, and took Lewis by the hand and pressed with all speed into the house, and relieved the anxious bosom of my Dear Anna, you must imagine my feelings, for I cannot express them. For once all public cares departed. Even the slave was forgotten, and my glad soul was thoroughly absorbed in grateful rapture.

You are aware that I was subjected to proscription on board the Cambria. This was a mesirable attempt to propetiate the American slaveholders and their abettors. These would have felt degraded to have been seated at the table with me, but not one of them but who would have been glad to have owned me as his slave. These wretched creatures could not indure me as a free man.…

Due to significant threats, Douglass left America for England in 1845. While there, he travelled widely to speak about slavery. By 1847, Douglass was anxious to return despite the risks, but two English sisters negotiated with Douglass’ owner and purchased his freedom. 

Here, Douglass describes his return from England to Boston aboard Cunard’s British Steamship Cambria, his joyous reunion with his wife and children, and the racism he faced during the voyage. Prior to boarding, treatment of Douglass by Cunard ticket agents had already sparked outrage in the United Kingdom, where such overt discrimination was more unusual. Reports such as this after his voyage furthered the reaction. Samuel Cunard issued a public apology.

Item #27434, $450,000

Cinque, Leader of the Amistad Revolt Autograph at an Abolitionist Fundraiser in Philadelphia

CINQUE, Autograph as Leader of the Amistad Captives. Philadelphia, Pa., May 27, 1841. 1 p. Also signed by F-foole [Fuli]. With two endorsements in unknown hand, the later one possibly written by Charles Evans in pencil.

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Cinque was an almost mythic figure during the controversies and legal cases surrounding the slave ship Amistad in 1839-1841. He freed himself and the other Africans in the hold of the Amistad, initiated the revolt that captured the ship, and led the ships’ voyage from waters near Cuba to the United States. After being captured off the coast of Long Island, while imprisoned in Connecticut as the Africans’ status was debated by the U.S. Supreme Court, Cinque learned to speak and write English. (That they spoke Mende was discovered by a linguistics professor at Yale, who then found translators—two escaped slaves who spoke both languages).

After winning their freedom, Cinque and some others embarked on a lecture tour to New York and Philadelphia in May 1841 to raise funds for their return home. Their enthusiastic reception by the abolitionist movement made for a busy schedule.  Among the stops, Cinque visited the Lombard Street School for black children in Philadelphia. 

This autograph, signed at the Lombard school on May 27, 1841, is one of only two or three known original signatures of Cinque.

Item #21884, PRICE ON REQUEST

Martin Luther King Jr. Inscribes Stride Toward Freedom to Pioneer Civil Rights Leader A. Philip Randolph

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., Signed Copy of Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, first edition. Inscribed to A. Philip Randolph. With Randolph’s annotations. New York: Harper and Row, 1958. 224 pp.

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To my dear Friend A. Philip Randolph.

     In appreciation of the standards of loyalty, honesty, non-violence, and the will to endure that you have held before all people in the struggle for freedom justice, and democracy.

Martin

A remarkable association of two key leaders of the Civil Rights movement, highlighting not only their similarities but also areas of disagreement. It offers important insights into their views at a critical moment in the fight for African-American equality. King’s book, with a rich personal inscription, was transformed by Randolph into a sort of dialog between them by his copious annotations, making this volume one of if not the most important King-signed book in existence.

Randolph annotated or marked 69 of the volume’s 224 pages. He underlined passages he found particularly powerful, and commented in the margins, echoing or amplifying King’s words.

Item #27430, $200,000

Abraham Lincoln Signed Check to “William Johnson (Colored)”

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Partially Printed Document Signed, Riggs & Co. Bank check, October 27, 1862, Washington, D.C. 1 p., 7½ x 2¾ in. Filled out and signed by Lincoln as president, payable to “William Johnson (Colored)” for $5.

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Johnson accompanied Lincoln from Springfield to Washington, D.C., served as the President’s valet, and traveled with him to Antietam (25 days before this check) and a year later to Gettysburg.

Item #27740, $180,000

New York Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves – 1794 Land Deed from John Jay’s Brother for First African Free School in New York City

FREDERICK JAY, Manuscript Document Signed, Deed to African Free School Trustees Matthew Clarkson, William Dunlap, Elihu Smith, and William Johnson, July 22, 1794. Endorsed by Master in Chancery John Ray and witnessed by John Keese and John Tyson. 1 p. on vellum, 27 x 24¼ in.

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“Whereas many respectable and benevolent Persons in the City of New York have associated under the denomination of ‘the Society for promoting the Manumission of Slaves and protecting such of them as have been or may be Liberated,’ and have Instituted a School in said City, called the African free School for the humane and charitable purpose of Educating negro Children to the end that they may become good and useful Citizens of the State...”

The New-York Manumission Society was founded in January 1785. The 19 initial founders included Future federal judge Robert Troup, prominent Anti-Federalist Melancton Smith, and John Jay, who was elected as the Society’s first president. Alexander Hamilton joined at the second meeting ten days later.

On November 2, 1787, the Society voted to establish the African Free School.  In 1794, by this deed, Frederick Jay – John Jay’s brother – donated lower Manhattan lot 635 on Hester Street to support the school, one of the first nondenominational charity schools in the United States.

Item #27319, $125,000

Very Early State Department Printing of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and William Seward’s Cover Letter, Sent to American Minister in Argentina

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Printed Circular, “By the President of the United States of America. A Proclamation.” First page: WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Printed Letter Signed by Secretary, to Robert C. Kirk, January 3, 1863. [Washington: Government Printing Office, ca. January 5, 1863], 2 pp. on one folded sheet, 8¼ x 13 in. (pages 2 and 4 blank)

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“By virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons…”

One of the first obtainable printed editions of Abraham Lincoln’s final Emancipation Proclamation, January 1863, issued by the State Department.

Item #27119.99, $115,000

Abraham Lincoln Introduces Ulysses S. Grant’s Superintendent of Freed Slaves to the American Freedmen’s Inquiry Commission

Abraham Lincoln, Autograph Letter Signed as President, to Robert Dale Owen, July 22, 1863, Washington, D.C. On Executive Mansion stationery. 1 p., 5 x 8 in.

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“Mr John Eaton Jr. … having had charge of the freed-men … comes to me highly recommended by Gen. Grant, as you know, & also by Judge Swayne[1]of the U. S. Supreme Court.

On July 22, 1862, exactly a year before he wrote this letter, Lincoln read a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet, agreeing to Stanton’s advice to hold it back until the Union could claim a military victory. On September 22, after the Battle of Antietam, he issued a Preliminary Proclamation, stating that enslaved people in any areas still in rebellion would be freed, and that freed men would be welcomed into the armed forces of the United States. Once Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, Secretary of War Edward Stanton worked to create a federal system to support freed slaves, and allow them to most effectively support the Union.

Item #26470, $85,000

Announcing Frederick Douglass’ Vermont Fair Speech on the Assassination of Lincoln

[FREDERICK DOUGLASS], Handbill for Lecture on the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, [September 27, 1865, Rutland, Vermont.] 1 p., 5-3/8 x 5-7/8 in.

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Possibly unique handbill advertising “Town Hall Lecture By the Great Colored Orator, Fred. Douglass, This Evening. Subject: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln.” On the first day of the county fair, September 27, 1865, Douglass spoke to a packed Rutland, Vermont, Town Hall.

Doors open at 7 o’clock, Lecture to commence at 8 o’clock. Admission 25 cents. Tickets for sale at the Herald Book Store or at the Door.

Item #26165, $26,000

Frederick Douglass Recruiting African American Soldiers

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Broadside: “Men of Color, To Arms! Now or Never!” Philadelphia [ca Spring, 1863]. 1 p., 8 x 10 in. Subscribed in type by Douglass and fifty-four other African American leaders, including William Forten, Rev. William T. Catto, Rev. Stephen Smith, Rev. J. C. Gibbs, and many others.

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Are Freemen less brave than Slaves?

 

The impassioned text was adapted from Frederick Douglass’ editorial in the March 1863 issue of Douglass’ Monthly magazine. Once Massachusetts’ Governor John Andrew had the federal government’s permission to raise a corps of “United States Colored Troops,” Douglass spent much of the spring recruiting, counting his owns sons,  Charles and Lewis, among those who enlisted in the 54th Regiment. In May 1863, at the request of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, Douglass traveled through the Union to further its efforts. In Pennsylvania, the effort took on a new urgency in June 1863, as the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia left its encampments and started to move north. References to the 1863 siege of Port Hudson (which began on May 21), the battle of Milliken’s Bend (June 7), and the absence of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3) or the 54th Massachusetts regiment’s glorious charge at Fort Wagner (July 18), point to a publication date between mid-June and mid-July of 1863. This might have made its first appearance at a July 6 mass meeting, where Professor E. D. Bassett read the text printed here.

Item #26162, $25,000

Selma, Alabama Hotel Albert Archive, Including Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Freedom Day” Registration Filled Out Moments Before He was Violently Assaulted

[Selma Hotel Archive], More than 300 individual receipts printed with “Hotel Albert, Selma Alabama” heading, itemized with room rates, and charges for phone calls, meals, and other details, for Martin Luther King, Jr. and many Civil Rights leaders, advocates, opponents, and government agents. Each approx. 5½ x 8 in. Spanning roughly 20 months, from November 1964 through June 1966, and representing a “who’s who” of notable Civil Rights leaders, specifically centered around the Selma, Alabama campaign for voting rights. With eight Hotel Albert room keys on branded leather or plastic fobs, a late-19th-century brochure illustrating the hotel in its heyday, and an early-20th-century photographic postcard of the hotel taken during a fire.

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Relating to the events that led to Dr. King’s jailing and his famous essay in defense of nonviolent protest, “A letter from a Selma, Alabama jail”; the horrifying “Bloody Sunday” that ended on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7; the subsequent March to Montgomery on March 17; and the crucial events that culminated in the Voting Rights Act of August 1965.

The Civil Rights Act signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 6, 1964, prohibited the segregation of public facilities. Despite this law, concerted efforts continued to keep Jim Crow alive. On the day the Civil Rights Act became law, John Lewis led 50 Black citizens to the Selma, Alabama, courthouse to register to vote. County sheriff Jim Clark, whose posse of 200 deputies included members of the Ku Klux Klan and the National States’ Rights Party, arrested them. A few days later, a local court issued an (unconstitutional) injunction that forbade more than two people at a time to talk about civil rights or voter registration in Selma, which succeeded in suppressing civil rights and voting rights activity for the next six months.

It was against this backdrop that a local group, the “Courageous Eight” requested assistance from Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). On January 2, 1965, in defiance of the injunction, King addressed a large meeting held in Selma’s Brown Chapel. Preparations for mass voter registration commenced over the next two weeks. King called President Johnson on January 15; they agreed to plan a massive voting rights registration, which would also support the Johnson administration’s “War on Poverty.”

On the first “Freedom Day” of the new campaign, January 18, 1965, King returned to Selma. Arriving at the Hotel Albert, he signed in to room 202 as “Martin Luther King, Jr., 563 Johnson Ave., Atlanta, Ga.,” becoming the first African-American guest of the hotel which had been built by slave labor in the nineteenth century. He spent one night there at a $5 daily rate and was billed for three local phone calls and breakfast. (See image above.)

While checking in, King was assaulted by a member of the National States’ Rights Party. According to the Jim Crow Museum, James George Robinson “attacked King for trying to register at the Hotel Albert, a formerly whites-only business in Selma, Alabama. He punched King several times, and before black onlookers intervened, kicked him in the groin. King refused to press charges. Two months later, Robinson was arrested for beating a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) photographer.”

John Lewis, a member of the SNCC, later said, “It was the closest I’ve ever come to laying down my non-violence. I found out that day, even I have limits.” That same day, King and four hundred marchers set off from Brown’s A&E Chapel to the County Courthouse in Selma to protest illegal voting rights practices being committed against African Americans in the Southern United States.

Item #27578, $24,000

Former President and Future Confederate Supporter John Tyler Forcefully Defends the Fugitive Slave Act and the “Southern Cause,” Attacks the NY Press, and Plays up His Own Service in the War of 1812

JOHN TYLER, Autograph Letter Signed and Autograph Manuscript Signed several times in the third person. Sent to S. Cunningham, from Sherwood Forest, October 12, 1850, 1 p., 9⅜ x 7¼ in. on blue paper marked “Private,” being the cover letter for the manuscript, written for anonymous publication: “The fugitive slave bill and Commissioner Gardiner,” [ca. October 12, 1850], 2 pp., 9⅜ x 7⅞ in. on blue paper.

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In the first fugitive slave law case, which came before his cousin Commissioner Gardiner: “The fugitive was promptly dealt by and restored to his owner in Baltimore. Mr. Gardiner has proven himself to be a faithful public servant, an honest man, and a Patriot. And yet, by a certain class of Editors in New York he is sneered at…

Tyler criticizes two NY editors in particular: “Now what jackasses are Mssrs Herricks and Ropes… These would-be somethingarians [a colloquialism, usually used as an insult] in the first place, deem it a matter of censure in a judge, to execute the law—and, in the next they show their ignorance … by ascribing to Mr. Tyler under their witty soubriquet of Captain (a title he is well content to wear since he enjoyed it during the war of 1812 with Great Britain)…

Item #24043, $24,000

Lyndon B. Johnson Signing Pen for Voting Rights Act of 1965

LYNDON B. JOHNSON, “One of the pens used by the President, August 6, 1965, in signing S. 1564, An Act to enforce the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and for other purposes,” per original printed slip in original box. Clear barrel pen, “The President-The Whitehouse” printed in white, with “Esterbrook” on the nib, 6⅜ in. long. With additional artifacts.

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This artifact came from Arnold “Pappy” Noel (1922-2009), a longtime news photographer who at that time was in the Public Affairs Office of the Secretary of Defense. Noel earned his nickname in World War II as a B-29 tail gunner. After the war and his retirement, he joined United Press International as a newsreel and still photographer, filming presidential and White House events, marches on Washington and Selma, fires and riots in Washington and Detroit, and early NASA events. At the 1968 Democratic Convention, he became part of the story when he was injured and arrested for refusing to hand over his film of “excessive abuse of law enforcement agents towards demonstrators.” He was president of the White House Press Photographers Association for two years, leaving the press corps to work as a public affairs assistant to President Ford.

Item #27655, $20,000

Benjamin Franklin Calls For Abolition of Slavery, Washington Addresses the Dutch Reformed Church on Religious Freedom, Thanksgiving Thoughts, Hamilton’s Plans, and More

[BENJAMIN FRANKLIN], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States. November 25, 1789, New York, N.Y., 4 pp., (pp. 257-60), 10 x 16 in.

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Also offered as part of the Alexander Hamilton Collection: The Story of the Revolution & Founding.

This important newspaper includes an October 9, 1789 letter to George Washington, with his Address responding To the Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in North America discussing his gratitude for their support, thanks for the nation weathering the revolution and peacefully establishing constitutional government, and ensuring religious freedom. (p. 1, col. 3).

As well as a printing of Benjamin Franklin’s “Address to the Public from the Pennsylvania Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery and the Relief of free Negroes unlawfully held in bondage.”

Item #23116, $8,500

President Grant Preliminary Order Seeking to End Ku Klux Klan Violence in South Carolina

ULYSSES S. GRANT, Manuscript Document Signed, as President, directing Secretary of State Hamilton Fish to “affix the seal of the United States to the accompanying Proclamation commanding the persons composing certain unlawful combinations in the State of South Carolina to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes.” Washington, D.C. March 24, 1871, 1 p., 7.75 x 9.75 in.

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Accompanied by a modern printing of the text of Grant’s proclamation:

“Whereas it is provided in the Constitution that the United States shall protect every state in the Union… and …Whereas I have received information that combinations of armed men, unauthorized by law, are now disturbing the peace and safety of the citizens of the State of South Carolina and committing acts of violence … which render the power of the State and its officers unequal to the task of protecting live and property and securing public order therein…”ordering members of the Ku Klux Klan to “disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes within twenty days…”

Item #27741, $7,500

The Dreadful Dred Scott Decision, First Edition with Added Illustrations

[Slavery], Report of the Decision of the Supreme Court of the United States and the Opinions of the Judges thereof, in the Case of Dred Scott versus John F.A. Sandford, December Term, 1856., Washington, DC: 239 pp. With engraved portraits of Dred and Harriet Scott from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, June 27, 1857, inserted on lined blue paper, a portrait of Scott's daughters pasted on page 633, a few early ink annotations. Published simultaneously in New York and Washington, D.C., both are considered the First Edition.

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In Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote for a 6-2 majority, declaring that all blacks, slaves as well as free, were not and could never become citizens of the United States. The court also declared the 1820 Missouri Compromise, and any law that prohibited slavery in a territory, to be unconstitutional, and that slaves did not become free when taken into free territory.

Item #26591, $6,000

Jackie Robinson says a talk radio host “needs to do a lot of soul searching.”

JACKIE ROBINSON, Autograph Letter Signed, to Jon Anthony Dosa, ca. 1968-1969. Written on letterhead of St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco. 2 pp., 7¼ x 10½ in.

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He needs to do a lot of soul searching for he is the kind of guy we fear. His opportunity to spread his views and his cleverness will continue to be a stumbling block before we reach peace here at home.

Item #25009, $5,500

Powerful Anti-Slavery Argument Likely by John Laurens

ANTIBIASTES, Newspaper. “Observations on the slaves and the Indentured Servants inlisted in the Army…” Front page printing, in the Boston Gazette and Country Journal, October 13, 1777. Boston: Benjamin Edes. 4 pp., 10 x 15½ in.

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Also see the Alexander Hamilton Collection: The Story of the Revolution & Founding.

Many Slaves …share in the dangers and glory of the efforts made by US, the freeborn members of the United States, to enjoy, undisturbed, the common rights of human nature; and THEY remain SLAVES!... The enlightened equity of a free people, cannot suffer them to be ungrateful.

Item #24438, $4,800

“George Washington” - Keith Carter Photograph

[GEORGE WASHINGTON]. KEITH CARTER, Photograph. Child holds his copy of Gilbert Stuart’s famous “Athenaeum” portrait of George Washington. 1990. Number 6 of 50, 15 x 15 in.

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Item #25394, $4,800

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail in Liberation Magazine

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR, “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” in Liberation: An Independent Monthly, June 1963, New York. 32 pp.

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This issue of Liberation magazine includes the full text of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” written on April 16, 1963, when King was jailed for disobeying a judge’s blanket injunction against “parading, demonstrating, boycotting, trespassing and picketing.” King and other civil rights protestors were arrested on April 12.

A supporter smuggled a copy of an April 12 newspaper to him, which included an open letter entitled “A Call for Unity.” Written by eight white Birmingham clergymen, representing Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish congregations, the letter opposed events “directed and led in part by outsiders” and urged local African Americans to negotiate and use the courts if they were denied their rights, rather than protest. These clergymen agreed that social injustices existed but insisted that the battle against racial segregation should take place in the courts and not in the streets.

Provoked by the letter from fellow clergymen, King began to write a response in the margins of the newspaper itself. He continued the letter on scraps of paper supplied by a supportive African American fellow inmate who served as a trustee and finished the nearly 6,000-word letter on a pad provided by his attorneys. Walter Reuther, the president of the United Auto Workers, arranged to pay $160,000 to bail out King and other jailed protestors.

Item #27490.01, $4,500

Bold Cartoon on Fugitive Slave Law

[Slavery], E. C. [possibly Edward Williams Clay], “Practical Illustration of the Fugitive Slave Law,” Political Cartoon, 1851. 1 p., 15 x 11½ in.

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This political cartoon vividly illustrates the conflicts over the operation of the strengthened Fugitive Slave Law, passed by Congress as part of the Compromise of 1850. At the left, an African-American woman cries, “Oh Massa Garrison, protect me!!!” Beside her stand abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass, armed with pistols. Garrison reassures her, “Do’nt be alarmed Susanna you’re safe enough.” At center right, a figure representing the slave interests rides atop Daniel Webster, a chief architect of the Compromise, who is down on his hands and knees. The figure says, “Do’nt back out Webster, if you do we’re ruin’d,” and Webster, clutching the Constitution, responds, “This, though Constitutional, is extremely disagreeable.” Another proslavery figure carries large volumes labeled “Law & Gospel” and declares, “We will give these fellows a touch of Old South Carolina,” while another says, “I goes in for Law & Order.” In the background, from the “Temple of Liberty” wave two flags with the inscriptions, “A day, an hour, of virtuous Liberty, is worth an age of Servitude” and “All men are born free & equal.

The artist "E.C." is possibly Edward Williams Clay, but cataloging at the Library of Congress concludes that “the signature, the expressive animation of the figures, and especially the political viewpoint are, however, uncharacteristic of Clay.”

Item #27427, $4,500
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